News / Europe

Kerry Likely to Discuss Israeli-Turkish Ties, Syria While in Turkey

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 2, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 2, 2013.
Dorian Jones
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to visit Turkey this weekend as part of a trip the region.  Syria is expected to be high on the agenda, as well as the ongoing efforts to mend relations between Turkey and Israel.
 
According to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, Kerry will be seeking to build on the current rapprochement efforts between two key U.S. allies.

"By going to Istanbul first then going onto Israel, the secretary will also have an opportunity to spur both sides to continue to take steps to deepen their normalization and work well together," said Nuland.
 
Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted an apology from his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu for the 2010 killings by Israeli commandos of nine Turks aboard a ship seeking to break Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza. Israel has also agreed to pay compensation to the victims' families.

Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
x
Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.


For its part, Ankara has agreed to take steps to unfreeze diplomatic relations - a process observers say Secretary Kerry will be looking to expedite.

Semih Idiz, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf, warns rapprochement efforts will not be easy.
 
"There won't be much love in this relationship, because I think from the Israeli perspective, they look at the present government as Islamic and fundamentalist, and, on the other hand, from the Turkish, Erdogan and AKP [Turkey's ruling party] perspective, they look on Israel as oppressors of the Palestinians and generally as anti-Islamic and all that. But then there is practicality of the issue vis-a-vis Syria forcing them [to] push this ideological orientation to the background because the situation on the ground requires them to do so," said Idiz.

Idiz points out that the governments of Israel and Turkey, both of which share a border with Syria, have called for international intervention in the Syrian conflict.  Soli Ozel,  a lecturer at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University, points out Ankara’s strong support for the Syrian opposition against President Bashar al-Assad means there is the potential for Turkey and Israel to work closely together.

"Turkey has already insinuated itself in the Syrian matter and it wishes itself to be in the forefront, and to make sure the new regime in Syria is not one that is detrimental to Israeli security concerns or even Turkish security concerns. I think these two can cooperate. Whether they will cooperate operationally, I don’t know yet; it depends how long this goes on," said Ozel.

Syria is expected to be a key issue in Kerry’s talks with his Turkish counterpart. Ankara is likely to press for arming the Syrian opposition.  Reviving the stalled negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel is also likely to be on his agenda during his visit to Istanbul.

Diplomatic columnist Idiz says the thawing of relations between Turkey and Israel makes it possible for Ankara to play a positive role in those efforts.
 
"Now [that] it’s [Turkey] talking to all sides, there is a potential for Turkey to play a role," he said. "And I think Israel will want this, because Turkey can use its moderating influence on Hamas, for example."

The Turkish government has close ties with the Hamas leadership. But international relations expert Ozel warns those close ties means the current rapprochement efforts between Turkey and Israel is vulnerable to any major outbreak of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
"Let's not say hostage, but dependent on what goes on in the West Bank, they [Turkey's leaders] cannot turn their back to the Palestinians if or maybe when the third intifada erupts," he said. "If there is an intifada and the Israelis brutally suppress [it], it's going to be very difficult for the Turkish government to maintain its relations [with Israel]."

But Ozel points out there are also powerful economic considerations that could drive rapprochement efforts between Israel and Turkey. Israel is reported to be looking at Turkey as a route for distributing newly discovered natural gas to the lucrative European market. That fits well with Ankara’s bid to become an energy hub to the region - something observers say Kerry will be keen to point out during his visit to Istanbul.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid